08/09/14 10:09am
08/09/2014 10:09 AM
Mixed media artist Charles Manfredi of East Islip (far left) is interviewed next to his diorama of his figures "Baldies Visit Riverhead" by the Suffolk Theater Friday evening. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Mixed media artist Charles Manfredi of East Islip (far left) is interviewed next to his diorama of his figures “Baldies Visit Riverhead” by the Suffolk Theater Friday evening. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

It was a picture perfect summer evening Friday as several hundred people filled downtown Riverhead to see JumpstART artists unveil their work on the grounds of the East End Arts complex and various venues along East Main Street and Grangebel Park.  (more…)

02/16/14 12:00pm
02/16/2014 12:00 PM
From left to right: Alex DeTurk, engineer; Bill DeTurk, banjo and guitar; John Brisotti, mandolin and vocals;  Bruce Barry,  bass; Dave Thompson, guitar;  and Bill Avasse, fiddle. (Photo by Tim Gannon).

From left to right: Alex DeTurk, engineer; Bill DeTurk, banjo and guitar; John Brisotti, mandolin and vocals; Bruce Barry, bass; Dave Thompson, guitar; and Bill Avasse, fiddle. (Photo by Tim Gannon).

The Jamesport Meeting House has been a lot of things in its 275-plus years on the corner of Main Road and Manor Lane in Jamesport.  (more…)

02/04/14 3:43pm
02/04/2014 3:43 PM

Booker T 1.jpg

One of Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” is coming to Riverhead this month.

Booker T. Jones, originally know as the leader of the MG’s, the house band at Stax Records, where he played for an array of iconic soul singers such as Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett, will perform at The Suffolk Theater on Sunday, Feb. 16. Read all about it and find out how to buy tickets on northforker.com.

04/24/13 4:00pm
04/24/2013 4:00 PM
ROBIN BAY COURTESY PHOTO | The chamber choir from Bishop McGann-Mercy High School prior to performing at the National Festival Chorus April 21.

ROBIN BAY COURTESY PHOTO | The chamber choir from Bishop McGann-Mercy High School prior to performing at the National Festival Chorus April 21.

The Chamber Choir at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead was one of 10 East Coast groups that performed at the National Festival Chorus at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center Sunday.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the kids,” said Jamie Calandro, the director of fine arts at Mercy and the chamber choir teacher. “They worked really hard to get here and it’s nice to see their efforts rewarded.”

Sixteen high school students and two junior high school students at Mercy were selected to sing at the concert, which was conducted this year by guest maestro Richard Mathey and featured the award-winning Troy High School Orchestra. Works performed included “O Be Joyful in the Lord” by John Rutter, “Spiritual” by Ysaye Barnwell, and “Silver Wings”, by John Carter.

“Working with the other choirs and guest conductor was one of the greatest experiences I have had as part of chamber choir,” said senior Kaylee Navarra of Manorville. Ms. Navarra, 17, is a soprano who joined the group her sophomore year.

In preparation for the concert, the chamber choir traveled to Manhattan Saturday to rehearse with the nine other groups selected to sing at the National Festival Chorus.

“It was intense,” Mr. Calandro, 32, said of the rehearsal. “They [the students] were a little worried because we had so little time to learn the music, but they were so excited. They got to perform with everybody and hear exactly what it’s going to sound like. It was a higher caliber than anything they’ve ever been a part of.”

Danielle Allen, a junior from Aquebogue who has been a member of the chamber choir for five years and sings alto, said that rehearsing with the other groups was “a little intimidating” at first.

“The other choirs were all so talented,” Ms. Allen, 16, said. “The sound we produced together was absolutely beautiful.”

Patrick O’Brien, a 16-year-old junior from Riverhead who sings tenor and baritone and has been a member of the chamber choir for five years, said he met a lot of “amazing people” during the experience.

“I think I left a better musician,” he said.

For Mr. Calandro, who has been teaching choir for 10 years at Mercy, the concert is a high point in a decade of hard work at the school.

“It’s very humbling and flattering to be recognized on a national level,” he said. “This is definitely my favorite moment since I started the Mercy chorus 10 years ago.”

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02/23/13 12:00pm
02/23/2013 12:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | Aquebogue’s own acclaimed trumpet player Alex Siplagin will perform at Winterfest this weekend.

The 2013 edition of the Winterfest Jazz on the Vine series continues at local wineries this weekend. Tickets to the concert events are $20.

Check out the complete schedule below:


Ahmad Ali
Harbes Family Vineyard
3 p.m.
Jazz on the Half Shell
Macari Vineyards & Winery
3 p.m.
Danny Kean & Friends
Pellegrini Vineyards
3 p.m.
Steve Adelson Stick-Tet
Castello di Borghese
4:30 p.m.
Alex Sipiagin
4:30 p.m.
Mike Freeman ZonaVibe
Wolffer Estate
6 p.m.
Live at the Indigo
Hotel Indigo
7 p.m.
Paula Atherton
Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard
2:30 p.m.
Josyane Monaco
Diliberto Winery
2:30 p.m.
Iris Ornig
Palmer Vineyards
2:30 p.m.
Eliana Marcia & Banda Azul
4 p.m.
Don Miller’s String Theory
Lieb Cellars
4 p.m.
The Rare Groove Band
Bedell Cellars
4 p.m.
08/19/12 10:00am
08/19/2012 10:00 AM

Local music lovers will gather at Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue between 2 and 7 p.m. today to kick-off the 2012 NOFO Rock & Folk Fest concert series and pay tribute to Levon Helm, a musician whose influence has left an indelible fingerprint in the fabric of American music as the voice of The Band.

The Dirt Farmer band, comprised of core members of the Levon Helm Band, will headline the music festival, which will also include performances by Long Island band Miles to Dayton and the North Fork folk duo The Second Hands.

“Levon, for all of us [in the Dirt Farmer Band] was about good music for all the right reasons,” musician Larry Campbell said of his former bandmate. “I think there’s so much going on in music right now that has the wrong motivation; that’s just out there for money and riches. Money and fame goes away, but the joy of making great music never does and that’s success right there.”

Mr. Helm’s daughter, Amy, also played and sang with the Levon Helm Band before her father’s death in April and performs with The Dirt Farmer Band this afternoon in order to “keep it going” in his memory.

“We’re certainly paying tribute to him and carrying on what we were all about as a unit with his influence,” Mr. Campbell said. “That’s what we want to keep going, because it’s been a profound one for all of us, including him. He told me more than once that this was the best band he’d ever played with.”

Mr. Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer in the late 1990s, resulting in damaged vocal cords that initially left one of American music’s most distinctive voices speechless. He would slowly reinvent himself as a vocalist, singing more and more at the musical gatherings he often held at his Woodstock home.

“The first time I heard Levon sing again was at B.B. King’s in New York and it was like finding out the Beatles had gotten back together,” Mr. Campbell said of Mr. Helm’s vocal comeback.

Tickets to today’s event are $25 for anyone 17 and over and is free for all those under 16. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the continuation of the iconic musical gatherings Mr. Helms founded, The Midnight Rambles.

Read an interview with Amy Helm in Thursday’s edition of The Suffolk Times.

07/31/12 8:00pm
07/31/2012 8:00 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The NOFO Rock & Folk Fest at Peconic Bay Winery was one attempt to bring live music to the North Fork.

At the risk of stirring up some of those old “Troy has South Fork envy” complaints that arose many years ago when I compared downtown Greenport unfavorably to downtown Sag Harbor, this week I wish to discuss the distinct differences between Long Island’s two forks when it comes to presenting live music.

At its most elemental level, it comes down to this: How come the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center is so vital but Riverhead’s Suffolk Theatre remains stuck in neutral several decades after it was first proposed as a performing arts center?

Or why does East Hampton’s Stephen Talkhouse nightclub consistently attract nationally acclaimed performers while North Fork venues present mostly local talent.

Call me negative, but when I think of live music here I think mostly of what might have been. Like the several hundred hearty souls who attended the East End Arts Council’s Delbert McClinton concert at the Talmage farm on Sound Avenue in Baiting Hollow.

Or the disappointing turnouts (to me, at least) at the first two NOFO Music Festivals at Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue — although festival organizer Josh Horton has a more upbeat interpretation of that experience, as expressed in his comments below. Or the suspension for one year of the Riverhead Blues Festival, followed by a 2012 resumption that left the sponsor, Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, thousands of dollars in the red.

There have been some limited successes, of course. Like the short-lived rock and roll shows promoter Preston Powell once brought to the movie theater in Greenport. Or the generally low-key musical performances that have become standard at North Fork vineyards. (Said one wag I surveyed on this question: “It’s just that those bands all work for less than $200.”)

Or the live music offerings of The Arts in Southold Town — although even that volunteer-based organization was forced to disband in part because of the rigors of presenting.

Also on the plus side of the ledger, says East End Arts executive director Pat Snyder, is “the success of Winterfest Jazz on the Vine, which drew an estimated 7,500 people to the North Fork in the dead of winter. Even though vineyards were not built for performance,” she continues, “we make the best of it (along with a really good glass of wine) and enjoy world-class music. Last winter we had at least six Grammy-winning or -nominated musicians. The audience came from well beyond the Suffolk County borders. I believe it’s a matter of knowing who we are as an area and leveraging those qualities.”

What it comes down to — most of the people I’ve spoken to seem to agree — is geography and demographics.

Geographically speaking, Westhampton is much more accessible to the hundreds of thousands of potential customers who live in Brookhaven and Southampton towns. What’s more, as another friend points out, somewhat defensively, “While North Forkers will readily go to the South Side for stuff, those people often feel like they’re taking their lives in their own hands to come north.”

Demographically speaking, there’s significantly more wealth and a younger audience on the South Fork. The kind of wealth, in the form of corporate sponsorships and individual donations, that can help underwrite operating losses at the performing arts center in Westhampton.

And the kind of audience that most likely will sell out upcoming shows for such big name acts as Rufus Wainwright, Joe Walsh, Pat Metheny and k.d. lang. And with ticket prices ranging from just under $100 to just under $150!

Price resistance is definitely a factor here on the North Fork. One-day passes to the NOFO Fest approached $50, and even at that comparatively low level there appeared to be resistance. That’s one of the reasons why NOFO will be reconstituted this summer as a concert series instead of a multiple-day festival.

Still, organizer Josh Horton chooses to place a more upbeat spin on the change of plans, saying it’s “not grounded in the difficulty of producing live music initiatives.” Nor was he discouraged by the response to the first two festivals.

Instead, he says, “There’s a tremendous opportunity and demand for quality live music. That’s what we experienced with the first two NOFO festivals in 2010 and ’11. But this year, we’re taking a slightly different approach. Instead of being all things to all people over the course of two days,” he said, NOFO will become a concert series that presents national acts in a “more intimate setting.” And at a significantly reduced price.

Case in point: the just-announced tribute to Levon Helm, the recently departed founding member of The Band, scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 19, on the main lawn at Peconic Bay Winery. It will feature Helm’s daughter, Amy Helm, and the Dirt Farmer Band, which backed up Levon Helm on two award-winning albums. And tickets will be priced at just $20 in advance, $25 at the gate.

So instead of needing to sell 1,000 tickets, as they did with the larger festival, Josh said, they’ll need to sell 200 to 300.

“We want to make sure the focus is on the music,” he said, noting how the “time and focus spent on vendors and additional activities became a large part of the festival and diminished the focus on the music.”

So, North Fork music fans, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Let’s start small, with the purchase of a ticket or two for the Levon Helm show. And if that works out, we can start to think bigger, say the purchase and remodeling of the old Greenport Auditorium into a live contemporary music venue that makes the ghost of Stephen Talkhouse wish his Native American tribe had relocated to the North Fork.

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